May 25, San Francisco Theological Seminary awarded 59 degrees and certificates
and commissioned its class of 2013 to do ministry in the larger world.
theological education, my friends, has to go somewhere, has to mean something
more than an M.A., an M.Div., a D.Min., or a Ph.D. on your resumé,” SFTS
President James McDonald said in his commencement sermon. “Now it’s time to
pivot and take what you’ve learned here to its logical conclusion. Now it’s
time to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.
Now it’s time to be transformed by the renewing of your minds.”
of commencement activities at SFTS began on Friday, May 24, with a community
lunch, during which members of the class of 2013 received awards and
recognition for academics, preaching ability, and seminary community
involvement. In recognition of their academic achievements, Laura Nelson
received the Alumni Fellowship and Julie Barnes received the Seminary
Fellowship. In recognition of their preaching ability, Katherine Buck was
awarded the Martin Dwelle Kneeland Preaching Prize and Faith McClellan received
the David Esler Award in Homiletics. Charles Wei and Laura Nelson were
recognized for their deep involvement in the SFTS community.
on her recognition for preaching, McClellan said, “I was humbled and honored to
get this award in homiletics. Through my training at SFTS, I am able to
approach Scripture using different biblical languages, and through my
coursework in preaching, spirituality, and theology, I can be open to the Holy
Spirit leading me when I preach my sermons.”
community lunch, Wei was also recognized for his creation of a 33-foot ceramic
mural that displays biblical scenes using colorful broken pottery. The mural,
which took three years to design and create, is now on permanent display in
Holy Grounds, the SFTS student common area next to Alexander Hall.
baccalaureate service took place in Stewart Chapel the day before commencement.
Designed by the class of 2013, the service included Scripture read in various
languages including Korean, Greek, Hebrew, and Amharic.
director Elizabeth McCord directed her sermon to the class of 2013: “You who
are graduating have demonstrated mutual care, respect, and devotion to one
another through your years at San Francisco Theological Seminary. You have
become one another’s kin, one another’s people; you share and serve the same
and Naomi,” McCord continued, “something fundamental about who you are as
people and as faith leaders is now intertwined. And while you may not
physically go where another goes or lodge where another lodges, you can remain
together in prayer and in friendship.”
The Rev. Eugene
Eung-Chun Park, professor of New Testament at SFTS, gave a charge to the
graduating students as they prepared to go out into the world. The Rev. James
Moiso, interim pastor-in-residence for the 2010–2011 academic year, offered the
following day’s commencement program, at Bouick Field on the SFTS campus,
opened with the sounds of bagpipes and an official procession of the graduating
class, faculty, administrators, and guest speakers. SFTS graduated 16 students
in the Master of Divinity program, 8 students in the Master of Arts in
Theological Studies program, 19 students in the Doctor of Ministry program, 12
students in the Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction program, 5 students
in the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) Master of Arts program, 3 students in
the Diploma in Spiritual Formation Studies program, and 1 student in the GTU Ph.D.
recognized the Rev. Byron L. Bland as recipient of the 2013 Distinguished
Alumni Award. Bland, who received an M.A. in social ethics from SFTS in 1973
and an M.Div. from the seminary in 1974, works as an international conflict
resolution expert through the Stanford Center on International Conflict and
Negotiation (SCICN). He is currently involved in peacemaking efforts in Northern
Ireland and Israel-Palestine. Bland co-founded the Ecumenical Hunger Program of
Palo Alto, California, one of the oldest and largest faith- and community-based
anti-hunger organizations in the country. He also helped establish the first
peace studies program at Stanford University in 1982.
was working in Ireland at the time of commencement, he enlisted the Rev. Jack
Hodges (M.Div. 1965), president of the SFTS Alumni Council, to read his
are sad to be leaving the seminary community they have called home, graduates
of SFTS say they are excited to use what they have learned to become spiritual
leaders in the nation and the world.
“I am heartbroken
to be leaving SFTS, which has been my community and my home for the past four
years,” said Charles Wei, who earned an M.Div. degree. “But I’m excited to take
all that I have learned to engage in ministry through nontraditional avenues.”
is not just about celebrating the end of our story as classmates at SFTS,” said
M.Div. graduate Terra Pennington. “It’s about rejoicing with one another on new
beginnings, knowing that we leave the seminary as friends who will radically
change the future of the church and the world together."